Trump Budget Would Cut NASA Funding, Cancel 5 Earth Science Missions & End Education Office

President Donald Trump released a proposed national budget today that would cut $561 million from NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2018, including closing NASA’s Education Office and canceling five Earth Science missions.

NASA would see its budget reduced from $19.6 billion this year to just below $19.1 billion. The space agency received just under $19.3 billion in fiscal year 2016.

The total budget is close to the $19.1 billion contained in a budget blueprint the Trump Administration released in March.

The table below shows that reductions are spread across the agency, with three exceptions.

FY 2018 PBR
Space Operations (ISS, Commercial Crew)$4.95 billion$4.74 billion-$210 million
Exploration (SLS, Orion, Ground Systems)$4.324 billion$3.934 billion-$390 million
Science$5.765 billion$5.712 billion-$53 million
Space Technology$686.5 million$678.6 million-$6.9 million
Aeronautics$660 million$624 million-$36 million
Education$100 million$37.3 million-$62.7 million
Safety, Security & Mission Assurance$2.769 billion$2.830 billion+61 million
Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration$360.7 million
$496.1 million+$136.4
Office of Inspector General$37.9 million$39.3 million+1.6 million
TOTALS: $19.653 billion $19.092 billion-$561 million

Exploration, which funds Orion, Space Launch System and related ground systems — would see a reduction of $390 million, which is unlikely to please Congress.

There would be a $210 million cut in Space Operations, which funds the International Space Station and Commercial Crew programs.

The administration cited “competing priorities” in terminating five science missions, including: Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI), PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder.

The five missions are an increase over the four missions the administration proposed canceling in a budget blueprint released several months ago. The RBI mission was added to the list.

This image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away. (Credits: NASA/NOAA)

The DSCOVR satellite, which is a NOAA-NASA spacecraft parked at a spot 1 million miles from Earth, would continue to operate. NASA has said that shutting off the Earth-viewing instruments would save about $1.2 million per year.

The administration justified the canceled programs as follows:

The missions proposed for termination are lower-priority science missions that cannot be accommodated under constrained budgets. The proposed termination of these five missions restructures the NASA Earth science portfolio within the available budget in a way that causes the least impact to NASA’s ability to execute a balanced, comprehensive Earth science program that meets the highest priorities of the science community.

The RBI would have flown on a future weather satellite to make measurements of the Earth’s reflected sunlight and emitted thermal radiation. Similar instruments flying now and planned for near-term launch will continue to provide continuity for the data record. Additionally, the instrument has experienced cost growth and technical challenges, as technological innovations for RBI have proven more difficult than anticipated to implement.

DSCOVR, OCO-3, and PACE were not identified as high-priority NASA missions in the previous Earth Science Decadal Survey, which reflects the science community’s consensus views on Earth science space-borne priorities.

The DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments (currently in space) provide images of the sunlit side of the Earth and measure the energy reflected and emitted from it. These instruments do not contribute to the core DSCOVR mission of providing measurements for space weather.

OCO-3 would have investigated the distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth. These measurements are currently being taken by NASA’s OCO-2 mission, and future measurements are planned by other nations.

The PACE mission would have provided atmospheric aerosol measurements and ocean color measurements, some of which are being provided by existing U.S. and European satellites.

The CLARREO Pathfinder mission would have demonstrated measurement technologies for a larger, more expensive, potential future mission focused on improving detection of climate trends. This demonstration mission is in the earliest stages of implementation and is eliminated to achieve cost savings.

NASA’s Education budget would be cut by $100 million to $37.3 million, a reduction of $62.7 million. The funding would pay for closing out the office and its programs.

The Trump Administration gave the following rationale for closing the office.

The Office of Education has experienced significant challenges in implementing a focused NASA-wide education strategy, including challenges in providing oversight and integration of Agency-wide education activities. Comprehensive evaluations of major programs have not been conducted. Additionally, while output data (e.g., number of people funded, number of papers generated, number of events supported) has been tracked, outcome-related data demonstrating program effectiveness has been insufficient to assess the impact of the overall Office of Education portfolio. Given these challenges and current fiscal constraints, the Budget proposes to terminate this office and proposes $37 million for close-out costs.

Some areas of the budget would see increases. The space agency would received an additional $136.4 million in its construction and environmental remediation and compliance budget. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida suffered damage from a hurricane. Its Michoud facility in New Orleans was hit by a hurricane.

The Safety, Security and Mission Assurance budget — which pays for operations — would see a $61 million increase. NASA’s Office of Inspector General would see its budget rise by $1.6 million.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    MARGARET THATCHER: “The problem with socialism is that you soon run out of other people’s money.”

  • DJN

    I’m not seeing a problem with these proposed cuts.

  • JamesG

    We are in the process of attempting all three in sequence.

  • JamesG

    Zeroing out SLS would have been nice.

  • ThomasLMatula

    And many, like Arthur C. Clarke, fled as a result.

  • JamesG

    Those unintended consequences. They get socialists every time.

  • therealdmt

    Just fund commercial crew, please. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but, Come Ooooon, Congress!

  • Steve Ksiazek

    I read that California proposed a single-payer health care system. Costs 400 Billion dollars, which is 4 times the current size of the entire state budget. I assume guys like Elon Musk will just pack their bags and east.

  • Douglas Messier

    Trump doesn’t either. Then again, he believes global warming is a Chinese plot so slicing five missions from Earth Science isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a start.

  • windbourne

    i do.
    Cutting OCO3, esp since it costs next to nothing,is a HORRIBLE mistake. It would allow the world to see exactly how nations are really doing WRT CO2. And they would be in for a real shock.

  • windbourne

    While I am not wild about the cuts to CCXdev, I think that spending needs to be to put 2 different private habitats on the ISS and vet them. That means, full life support, kitchen, sleeping quarters, privy, ideally shower, avionics, lab facility, solar power with storage, etc.
    Let them do that for 2-3 years with NASA and ESA buying sleeping services with them.

  • windbourne

    How funny.
    You pick 3 who have done more to increase America tech and manufacturing, and think that taxing them will make a difference.
    You want to tax somebody that really makes no difference to America?

    Try Bill Gates, Or Kock bros.
    All of them are worthless.

    And lots of better ways to do taxation.
    For starters, cut American corporation taxes to ZERO for anything that was 60% made/done in America, and then increase that by 5% each year.
    Tax anything made outside of America and sold in America, at 20% on profits.

    Also, put up a vat to replace that above corporate tax. Say 17%. Put that on anything that is imported (including directly shipped), as well as anything made and consumed here.

    Note, no tax breaks.

    Then go after individuals.
    Again lose all tax breaks.
    Then put in a progressive tax that starts at say 2% being applied for anything above poverty.
    Top rate of say 20-25%.
    It applies the same to wages, dividends, investments, gambling winnings, inheritence, etc.

    This would be much better than actually going after ppl that are doing good things.

  • windbourne

    400 B, is double what the CA state budget currently pays for health insurance. IOW, if CA takes this on, then 200B more would be needed to cover it.
    OTOH, CA currently spends .5T on payments to health insurance. IOW, CA would actually SAVE 300B / year in total money.

    Somehow, I doubt that Musk will leave since it would be much cheaper to them.

  • windbourne

    yes, but we should give the SLS/Orion to the companies that have been building it and allow them to compete as they wish.

  • windbourne

    and the funny thing is, the ppl he wants to tax the heck out of, have their money tied up in American businesses, not sitting in Switzerland.

  • JamesG

    The scrap value of the test parts and fixtures already built wouldn’t be worth their time.

  • windbourne


    Let them decide what they can and will not do.

  • JamesG

    They wouldn’t do anything with it unless the Gov’ment tells(pays) them what to do with it.

  • windbourne

    well, I think ISS servicing contract is a great example of how to do things.
    After giving the CURRENT SLS / orion away, put up contracts for launching cargo to the moon, venus, and mars.
    First make it orbiting sats,esp. communications and navigation. That should last for a couple of years. Then once we have a lander for the moon, it will be time to put robots on the moon for setting up a base.
    Then of course a base.

  • JamesG

    SLS isn’t cost effective enough to be run privately. You would lose your shirt if it had to compete on the open(ish) market for sat launches. There is not sufficient demand for the uber heavy lift it was designed for to close a business case around, even if the vehicle as designed was cheap enough to be built and flown by anyone using their own money. Which it is not.

    SX, BO, maybe even ArianeSpace, everyone except maybe ULA (since they would most likely “own” SLS), would instantly sue NASA for putting a 100 ton turd into their business punchbowl.

    I think something like this idea would probably finally be enough to get the forks and torches of the American taxpayers out. Even some kind of lease or repayment plan were hashed out, there would be no way the US’s investment in SLS would ever be recouped.

    SLS was notionally intended to meet a requirement we can’t afford to meet a demand that doesn’t exist, but in reality is just corporate welfare. It has no existence beyond the sheer will of Congress to waste money.

  • JamesG

    A couple of songs come to mind reading your post…